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International Meeting
2004 World Conference against A and H Bombs

Alexandra Silverthorne
Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace committee of the National Capital Area
U.S.A.

Growing up in a progressive home, my family often discussed the horrors of war and the fact that peace was indeed a ghard right over an easy wrong.h While attending grade school, we learned about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from Japanese books, poems, artwork and movies. Indeed as a young adult, I was not protected from the atrocities committed by the United States government. Yet, it is only recently that I discovered that my great-unclefs unit was assigned to drop the third nuclear bomb, if deemed gnecessaryh by the American government. It is easy enough to understand why this piece of family history has been omitted. It can be so painful to imagine a loved one assisting with such an indescribable act of destruction. Yet, we cannot forget. It is when we begin to disassociate ourselves from the past and allow ourselves to forget history and suffering that we are in danger of once again condoning such actions.

Today we live in fragile times and the war-mongering politics of the Bush Administration make these times frightening. As our politicians continue to fight terrorism with terrorism, their current policies and programs create devastating effects on our future. The United States is placing far more resources into war, violence and so-called security than into education, healthcare and the environment. It is inexcusable to the American public that in 2003, our leaders would choose to deny healthcare to over 3.5 million children in order to finance a re-birth of missile defense. It is even more inexcusable to the global public, that a country with the largest military force and the greatest weapons of mass destruction would choose to research and eventually create nuclear weapons that will be far more powerful than the ones released in August 1945.

As a photographer, I have dedicated the past three years to capturing the emergence of the todayfs peace and social justice movements. It is my hope that my photography will motivate viewers to take a second look, to open their minds a little more, and to remember the unspoken history behind each photograph. Art is an incredible cultural tool that contains the power to deliver messages to thousands of people on an emotional level. Indeed, ideas of peace and justice can be presented through art forms such as music, theater, painting or photography. However, progressive artists are not immune from attacks by conservatives. Recently in San Francisco, a progressive American city, a teenager was nearly arrested for making anti-war art and a gallery owner was severely beaten for displaying anti-war art. It is my own hope that art will continue to represent the voice of the people, to remind us of our past, and to allow us to remember that peace is always the hard right over an easy wrong.

As artists and as peace-loving people, we must not allow fear to silence us. We cannot afford to forget history. We cannot tolerate the continuation of nuclear weapons. We cannot permit the United States government to wage war in our names. But we can and must continue to speak out, educate and remember.

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